Police investigating the murder of four people gunned down in the French Alps have sent officers to Britain to find out more about victim Saad al-Hilli’s life.
The French team will work with British investigators and plan to search his house in Claygate, Surrey, it was announced last night.
Investigators also revealed Mr al-Hilli’s brother has approached UK police to deny any family feud with his sibling over money.
Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli, 50, was gunned down in his car alongside his wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, while on holiday in the Alps.
An older Swedish woman, who was travelling in the car, was also killed, along with Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack.
The couple’s four-year-old daughter Zeena laid undiscovered under her mother’s corpse for eight hours after the murders.
Officers revealed yesterday they had spoken to the youngster who told them of the “fury” and “terror” of a massacre during which 25 bullets were fired at the victims but she is not expected to be able to help in the inquiry.
They were still waiting to speak to her seven-year-old sister, Zainab, who remains in a medically-induced coma after being shot and beaten “with tremendous ferocity”.
Appeals have been issued for information about a car and a motorcycle it is believed were in the area at the time of the killings.
One theory is that shots could have been fired during a bungled armed robbery, with Mr Mollier being a witness to the crime.
But speculation about other possible motives, including a pre-planned attack by professional hitmen, remain rife after three of the four victims suffered gunshot wounds to the middle of the head.
Some media reports have suggested Mr al-Hilli, an engineer who left Saddam Hussein’s Iraq several years ago, was known to the security services and was put under surveillance by Metropolitan Police Special Branch during the second Gulf war.
French prosecutor Eric Maillaud said investigators were told of a possible feud between Mr al-Hilli and his brother over money, but he said the sibling had gone to a UK police station to deny suggestions of a row.
Police plan to search Mr al-Hilli’s house and look at other aspects of his life in a bid to find a motive for the murders.
“His life, his job – I heard that he was the owner of three companies – all of that is the sort of thing that we have to find out about in England,” said Mr Maillaud.
The four-year-old girl confirmed that two of the victims were her parents, but said she did not know the Swedish woman very well.
The prosecutor said: “We asked her, ‘Who were you with?’, and she said first, ‘With my dad’, and she gave a name, ‘With my sister’, she gave a name, ‘My mother’.
“The little girl said, talking like a little girl does, she didn’t know (the Swedish woman) very well. We have to assess very clearly, who was that lady with the Swedish passport?”
He said the girl did not see anything because she was hiding.
“The witness statement of the four-year-old girl, she just talked about a fury, a terror. She explained that from the beginning of the murder she was already between her mother and that other woman and she rushed under her mother’s legs, her mother’s skirt,” Mr Maillaud said.
Witnesses have said they saw a green four-wheel-drive vehicle in the area at the time of the killings, and possibly a motorbike.
Mr Maillaud said the family had visited France a number of times before and it was not the first time they had been to Le Solitaire du Lac campsite in Saint-Jorioz, which was where they were staying when they died.
He told reporters he hoped the seven-year-old would rebuild her life after being caught up in the killing spree.
“It’s a miracle that the girl didn’t get a bullet through her head and we feel that she may be able to start her life again,” he said.
French gendarmes yesterday lifted a roadblock nearly two miles away from where the murder took place. At the scene, a few pebbles spotted with blood, small shards of glass and tyre marks could be seen on the ground.
There was a dent in a bank at the back of the car park which was hit by the family’s BMW estate during the attack.